Giants’ mid-season report card
The Giants started the season off as a very hot-hitting team (.280 in March/April), but have cooled off considerably and are now batting .259 as a team, 15th in the Majors. Even worse is their batting average with RISP (.239) and their penchant for hitting into double plays (87 GIDPs in 81 games). Edgar Renteria (.305, 1 HR, 12 RBI), Aaron Rowand (.238, 7 HR, 26 RBI) and Bengie Molina (.257, 3 HR, 17 RBI) all came out of spring training with hot bats but have hit major slumps since April. Molina’s play had become so bad over the past month he was traded to the Texas Rangers last week. Renteria and Rowand have played miserably over the last month-and-a-half. Pablo Sandoval (.269, 6 HR, 32 RBI) has struggled mightily this season and if the Giants are to compete for the playoffs in the second half of the season, they’ll need the 2008-09 Panda to re-emerge. Aubrey Huff (.288, 15 HR, 47 RBI), Juan Uribe (.255, 12 HR, 46 RBI), Andres Torres (.285, 4 HR, 24 RBI), Freddy Sanchez (.287, 1 HR, 20 RBI), Pat Burrell (.315, 5 HR, 11 RBI as a Giant), and Buster Posey (.300, 2 HR, 11 RBI) have been the Giants’ most productive hitters over the long haul of the season so far. The Giants are 6-32 when they score less than four runs and are 8-26 when they are outhit by their opponent. When the team hits at least one homer, they are 30-19. When they go homerless, they are 11-21.
Barry Zito (7-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.253 WHIP, 74 K, 40 BB, 110.1 IP) started this season like he ended last season, but has fallen off sharply since May 11. The same statement can be made about Matt Cain (6-7, 2.98, 1.160, 82 K, 39 BB, 142.2 IP), Jonathan Sanchez (6-6, 3.26 ERA, 1.234, 92 K, 45 BB, 94 IP) and two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (8-4, 3.28, 1.304, 121 K, 46 BB, 109.2 IP), all of whom have struggled lately after terrific starts. Still, the Giants own the third best team ERA in the Majors (3.54) and their bullpen (while not always perfect) has a 3.55 ERA. Brian Wilson (2-0, 2.04, 1.359, 49 K, 15 BB, 35.1 IP) remains one of the best stoppers in the game and has saved 22 games in 24 chances. Lincecum’s struggles have clearly been the topic of the
day month. There’s no way the Giants squeak into the playoffs if Lincecum (who was just named to the All-Star Game along with Wilson) doesn’t get straightened out.
With all the moving parts Giants manager Bruce Bochy has to work with, sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s a starter and who’s not. It’s tempting to give the Giants a worse grade here, but we need to remember that Torres and Nate Schierholtz (.267, 2 HR, 11 RBI) were both Opening Day bench-warmers. And while Schierholtz is still riding pine, he has shown flashes of brilliance in the limited time he has played. Torres stole the starting job from John Bowker and has kept it ever since. Even Travis Ishikawa (.311, 2 HR, 9 RBI) seems to have found his niche as a pinch hitter. Giants’ catcher Eli Whiteside (.253, 4 HR, 9 RBI) is a decent backup behind starter Posey. And the bench actually gains points here because Eugenio Velez is back in Triple-A where he belongs.
The decision to name Todd Wellemeyer as the fifth starter out of spring training was one of the first big mistakes Bochy made in 2010. Kevin Pucetas arguably had a better spring yet was shipped off to Fresno to start the season. Bochy has been given a very flexible roster to work with and has used 50 different lineups in 81 games. After a terrific spring, he named Bowker the starter right fielder (over Schierholtz), much to the chagrin of many fans. Bowker’s now in Triple-A and Schierholtz is still coming off the bench. And while that may be due to the emergence of Torres as an everyday player, Bochy is reluctant to sit his slumping veterans. Rowand (age 33), Renteria (36 next month), and Molina (37 in two weeks) have all gotten too much playing time over younger rising stars like Posey, Schierholtz and Torres. The exception has been Sandoval, who Bochy has stuck with during the Kung Fu Panda’s slump. On a positive note, the handling of young pitching phenom Madison Bumgarner has gone fairly well.
Giants GM Brian Sabean (a pet of owner Bill Neukom‘s) re-signed Molina and Uribe and brought in newcomers Huff, Wellemeyer, and Mark DeRosa (.194, 1 HR, 10 RBI), who is out for the season following wrist surgery. Sabean also plucked Burrell off the waiver wire and that move has made him look really smart (for now). DeRosa’s signing is looking like a total failure (like the wrist surgery he had last October before the Giants signed him). It also looks like the Giants may have given up on Fred Lewis too soon (or at the very least not gotten a very good return on him). Lewis has been very productive in Toronto, batting .277 with 4 HR, 20 RBI, and 7 stolen bases as a Blue Jay. The Freddy Sanchez signing looks good but that’s last year’s report card. Give Sabean points for dumping Molina in exchange with Texas for reliever Chris Ray, who has looked remarkable in his lone two appearances for San Francisco since the trade.
Overall grade: C-
This kind of grade does not bode well for the Giants, who are now 7.5 games out of first place after spending 20 days at the top in April and May. For the Giants to improve upon last year’s 88-win season, they’ll need to make a major move for a major bat. I predicted a third place finish for the Gigantes back in March. But even that is going to take some effort now.